(WASHINGTON) — It’s a “hoppy” day at the White House — as the Easter Egg Roll returns Monday.
Following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden continue the tradition of welcoming families to the South Lawn for the famed Easter Egg Roll on Monday, although COVID cases are, once again, on the rise with the BA.2 variant.
Jill Biden, a longtime educator who has continued her job teaching community college while serving as first lady, created and curated this year’s theme: “EGGucation!” Her husband is scheduled to give remarks at 10:15 a.m.
The White House said the public will see the South Lawn “transformed into a school community” — with plenty of events to entertain the thousands of kids expected to attend. The day will feature a reading nook, talent show, farm station and an obstacle course, among other activities.
The tradition of inviting families to the South Lawn to hunt for colorful eggs and roll them on wooden spoons dates to 1878 — but its return after two years risks being overshadowed by the very reason it was paused. It’s unclear if all those attending are required to submit a negative COVID test, but it is expected that children under five — still unauthorized to receive the vaccine — will be on-site in scores.
The White House said 30,000 people were invited to take part in this year’s outdoor event “including thousands of military families, and the crew members and families from the U.S.S. DELAWARE, the U.S. Naval Submarine, for which the First Lady is the sponsor.”
An online public lottery was also held to distribute tickets to families across the country as it’s set to be the largest event held at the White House since Biden took office.
The White House said special guests include Jimmy Fallon, Ciara, Kristin Chenoweth, 2021 National Teacher of the Year, Juliana Urtubey, an elementary teacher in Las Vegas. Sports fans can expect to see the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Commanders and the Washington Spirit. And costumed characters will be roaming the grounds, including Disney’s Doc McStuffins, Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, Sonic the Hedgehog, Snoopy and Charlie Brown, Cookie Monster, The Minions and the Washington Nationals’ Racing Presidents.
Announcing the theme on Twitter last week, the first lady said, “As a teacher, my heart is always in the classroom.”
To mitigate crowds, Monday’s event will be broken into five sessions starting at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m. Still, it comes amid concerns the president himself could catch COVID as some in his circles in Washington, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have tested positive in recent weeks. The White House has shifted its messaging to acknowledge the president could get COVID but argued the concern for illness is lessened since he’s vaccinated and double boosted.
Former President Donald Trump’s White House canceled the event in 2020 “out of an abundance of caution,” and Biden canceled it last year when vaccines weren’t yet widely available. The tradition dating back to Rutherford B. Hayes’ White House has also been canceled in its 144-year history in wartime and inclement weather.
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